Who paid for the repair of the Downing Street flat?
The allegation that the prime minister privately planned to have Tory donors cover the expense was simply among a string of eye-popping accusations made by his former adviser Dominic Cummings recently – however it was the important things ministers and Conservative MPs understood would stick.
” It’s the wallpaper that will get him,” is what one previous cabinet minister quipped.
And sure enough, days after Mr Cummings stated the PM’s prepare for how to pay for renovations of the flat were “unethical, absurd and possibly illegal”, the Electoral Commission opened an official examination stating “there are reasonable grounds to presume that an offense, or offences might have taken place”.
Appearing at PMQs less than an hour after the Electoral Commission’s bombshell dropped, the prime minister trotted out his ‘absolutely nothing to see here’ defence, arguing that he ‘d covered the expense of the flat refurbishment and the public had much better things to consider.
Please use Chrome web browser for a more available video player Boris Johnson has actually once again denied he said ‘let bodies pile high’ and evaded flat refurbishment questions from Keir Starmer in PMQs
However his red-faced rage in the chamber offered a flash of how he was really feeling as the previous prosecutor Sir Keir Starmer led an agonizing interrogation on who spent for what, when.
Mr Johnson does not like being cornered – and he let it show.
Stonewalling in your house of Commons on Wednesday … however what took place behind closed doors in between the Conservative Party, the prime minister and the Cabinet Office will be discovered.
The Electoral Commission can require documents, information and explanations, and could possibly seek a statutory interview with the prime minister as part of the procedure.
It can likewise release fines of in between ₤ 200 and an optimum of ₤ 20,000 for breaches of electoral law. And it can refer examinations to the cops for the worst offences. There will be a paper trail of cash and invoices and the reality of it will come out.
Boris Johnson’s flat: PM branded ‘Major Sleaze’ – however insists he paid for revamp amidst formal investigation
Mr Johnson is a prime minister who has had his fair share of professional and political scandal – over his relationships with ladies, his relationship with the reality, and his loose language. However regardless of all of it, his charm and easy appeal has actually propelled him to the highest public workplace in the land.
There is a reason people joke he is a Teflon Tory: nothing ever sticks.
His flaws, his faults, his dishonesty, his chaotic personal life, is all priced in.
Why and how is the PM being examined over his Downing Street flat refurbishment?
However this probe indicates he now deals with the ignominy of being a sitting prime minister whose activities are under official examination by the authorities – because a line has actually been crossed. And the prime minister could certainly feel the heat depending on what the Electoral Commission concludes.
And it does put him in political problem.
Some in his celebration are silently fuming. They believe that a prime minister ought to be leading by example not mired in scandal and involved in an official investigation. It’s all made more severe by the proximity of the May elections.
“We ought to be discussing half a million individuals daily getting a COVID jab, not the PM’s pricy flat,” said one.
Please utilize Chrome browser for a more accessible video gamer Sir Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson clash over who paid the initial expense for a Downing Street flat refurbishment.
In the instant run, the great revealing next week in the elections will offer him political breathing room.
If he keeps providing for the Conservative Celebration when it pertains to elections, it in return will endure the debate he brings.
But there are bigger concerns about his premiership and his tradition.
Lord Kerslake, the previous head of the Civil Service, told me this week that the culture of Mr Johnson’s Number 10 will, in the end, do damage. If his administration is dysfunctional and chaotic, fire battling and infighting, it will damage the delivery of his concerns as prime minister.
What is Boris Johnson’s flat refurb like – and just how much did previous prime ministers spend?
And when it comes to the voters, will Labour’s label of “Major Sleaze” begin to stick in voters’ minds, possibly not next week, however gradually?
There are now 7 main examinations around lobbying and ministers’ conduct. There are three examinations – two within government, one from the Electoral Commission – into the flat repair.
That’s potentially a lot of debate, scandal and bad headlines to learn over an extended period.
And it raises the apparent concern that if and when public trust wears down, does confidence in Boris Johnson’s government to provide the pledges he made in 2019 wear down, too?
It may not be the wallpaper alone that proves terminal for this PM, however rather, the emerging culture of toxicity in his government that he can not seem to treat.